Get beyond your Limiting Beliefs!

One of the most powerful changes coaching can enable is the discovery and replacement of a limiting belief – one that’s holding you back. It can be as simple as, ‘I hate interviewing’. You cannot suddenly acquire interviewing skills without practice, but you can develop interviewing skills more easily if you manage the limiting belief that prevents learning.

Three characteristics of a limiting belief:

  1. I hold a belief – it may be conscious or not, but it’s going to hold me back from doing something well.  Examples I see include interviewing, writing, presenting, or networking.
  2. I use language that supports the belief – maybe I say it out loud, or maybe it’s my inner voice that feeds doubt.  
  3. When I am in a situation requiring action, it’s hard to be successful because I am certain I don’t look that good.


There were some beliefs that held me back from being my best when I started coaching.  The most obvious change has been in networking – moving on from a belief that every networking situation has potential for high stress, amending the belief by finding safer, smaller groups where I could be more comfortable.


It’s the words we use that sometimes hobble our progress – highlighting our perceived shortcomings. At a recent networking event, I heard one of the participants say ‘I hate presenting, I’m just not very good at it’.  What are the chances that he is going to stand up and be a convincing presenter?  Truthfully, he wasn’t terrible but he could have been so much better if he allowed himself to believe he could improve.

When it’s out loud, it can be subtle – e.g. when a client tells me they were fired from their last role, I often find a sense of failure lurking beneath the surface.  

Our self-talk/ inner voice can be constantly questioning our fitness to do a certain task. Especially true in a new situation:

  • I was never really that good at what I did, was I?
  • It’s been so long since I felt good about what I did
  • What if I get found out?  It’s not uncommon to experience imposter syndrome.

I am trying to practice some language with my daughter that changes ‘I can’t do this’ into ‘ ‘I haven’t learned how to do this, yet’.


Once I understand the limiting beliefs and the reinforcing language when I say that I hate interviewing, I still need to take action.  I can’t become a good interviewee without strategy and practice. This isn’t about pretending you are something that you are not – it’s applying your strengths to skills like interviewing, presenting and networking.    

A recent experience may help illustrate.  I just started using MailChimp to send my newsletters, the first was my November newsletter.  There were many things I’d like to have done better, and I could easily have said I’m not good at this, and given up on the value it could offer.  Instead I recognized that I needed practice.  I probably should have practiced more before using it for the first newsletter!  Hopefully, my audience has already seen the improvement in recent versions of my newsletter.

Specific Strategies:

  • Make a list of the things that make you unique:
    • How your attitude sets you apart – your optimism, your resourcefulness
    • What key skill do you have – do you improve how people work, do you organize things well, do you inspire people?
    • What knowledge you possess?  How many things do you know that are somewhat unique?
  • Check yourself when you use language (explicitly or inner voice) that limits you.  
    • Consciously reflect over a few days where you are working on something that is important to you, how many times you doubt yourself.
    • Write down what you could do in this situation at your most accomplished.
  • And create experiments that show you how good you can be:
    • Find a small scale opportunity to prove to myself that I can do succeed e.g. go to a networking event with a colleague
    • If I have a negative perspective on my presentation skills – find safe and supportive spaces to do my next presentation.  Talk about the thing I really know about

In short, reflect on what beliefs about your skills, strengths and knowledge could be holding you back,  Ask for help in identifying how your language and actions are supporting this misplaced belief.  Choose small steps forward to defeat that unhelpful belief.

If you identify with this phenomenon and need some help putting these ideas into action, I’d love to speak with you.  

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